Friday, October 30, 2009

UI Blueprint

What better way to pass the time during a boring meeting? So I sketched up what I'm thinking of doing for my fresh UI which I will setup this weekend.

Yeah I know I'm a talented artist innit! Why on earth do I work in IT? Who can say.

And there it is. Only took me a few minutes too! Amazing, I know.

I'm aware that all this probably only makes sense to me at this point, so here is a bit of a description of each UI element, starting top left and working my way clockwise around the screen.

Naturally posts shall be forthcoming with actual screen shots of the actual UI when I actually set it up.... Maybe I'll even include links to each addon, but tbh that sounds like hard work right now.

OK top left. Iz map. iz good. I totally dont need a map front and center as it is in spartanUI, and that space can be used for useful information instead. As for a map mod, Sexymap is win. Especially the ability to hide all your minimap icons until you mouse over the minimap.

Top center - some kind of cooldown timers will go here. Undecided as to which mod to use for this so far.

Top center also will be the spot for stealable buffs. There is a groovy mod called mage nuggets that does a bunch of useful mage things including tell you when and what buffs you can steal from your target. I like this.

Top right is Satrina Buff Frames. Stick with what you know imo.

Below that on the right is where I'll configure DBM to put it's little timer gizmos.

Bottom right will have omen and recount for PVE, and gladius for arena, and probably nothing much for battlegrounds.

Bottom bottom right is sort of up for grabs, but I think a small chat box dedicated to the combat log would go alright here. Thanks to Tunas for giving me the idea of multiple chat boxes with different content years ago. Definitely going to find a link to that post of his and put it here, sorry Tuan I'm just being lazy today. (ok maybe not so lazy, that was actually really simple)

Moving across to the center bottom, here I will have a couple of rows of buttons courtesy of bartender 4, and I think I'll get fancy with button facade to make it all look fancypants.

Above the action bars I will have some unit frames and cast bars. Pitbull and Quartz are used here, once you get used to them playing without them is just annoying.

Player and pet on the left side, target and target's target on the right side. I will have a big dirty target's castbar above my own, as seeing what your enemy is doing when you can't see your enemy is totally helpful and necessary if you are going to counterspell at the right time.

Finally between my feet and my target castbar seems like a good spot for those scrolling combat text notifications. (which I really need to filter, at the moment its just a stream of spam that I mostly ignore)

Ok... bottom left, standard chat window. Chatmod and WIM are essential once you get used to having them around.

Above that, against the left side of the screen is where party and raid frames traditionally live, and I think I'll probably stick with grid here. I have to say that since last patch grid has been a bit buggy and as a mage in arena I think I need something that shows me who everybody in the party is targeting.

Ok so now in the middle of my screen there will be scrolling combat texts. I like to get the numbers out of the way so I have the heals left and damage right, and I use the spam protection feature so there isn't tooo much going on. Maybe I'll use the blizzard damage numbers above the enemy's head, mainly because it't fun to see all that going on when you AoE... but further testing will tell.

In the middle at the top I will put Doom's Cooldown Pulse thingo. It basically flashes an icon of a spell when that spell comes off cooldown. Easier than looking at your action bars all the time or your cooldown counters.

Finally above my head and around my avatar will go various power auras so I know when I have umm powerful auras active. Good for arcane power and stuff like that.

Oh yes, titan bar at the bottom as well, although I'm considering alternative ways to display this info (gold, system performance, lag, location, bagspace, time, blablabla)

And then.... Then I'm going to redo all my bindings... and then learn them again O.o I just did a quick count and I have about 14 keys I can hit without thinking or using a modifier like shift or alt. That is plenty for a DK but just doesn't cut it as a mage.

Going to have to either use modifiers or get used to stretching my fingers a bit further to access more keys, but I don't really like that idea, as i'm more likely to hit the wrong thing, or worse still, put my fingers back on the keyboard in the wrong spot, and then ill hit all the wrong things until I figure that out.

Something to keep me busy I guess.

edit: Just had an idea. Perhaps I switch the location of the action bars with the player / target unit frames and cast bars?

Oh and I forgot to mention OmniCC is totally worth having, and as such I will be havening it!

Two's company

I've never had an arena team hold together for more than a few weeks, and never had any kind of success in arena, ever.

There was this one warrior I played some games with back in season 4 or something, but neither of us were particularly adept at the whole arena-ing thing, which is almost another game altogether when compared to battlegrounds, and has nothing whatsoever in common with the raiding thing, let alone the kill ten rats kthx thing. I do remember having fun on those rare occasions when we won matches, and always intended to get back into it 'one day'...

I've also never been in a pvp guild, and basically never got around to making it happen. (arena that is) Procrastination is an art, and one I feel I have mastered by this stage in my life.... added to that, being undergeared in arenas is no fun, so I've always planned to grind out a bunch of honor before even attempting them in previous seasons...

Generally that coincides with my semi regular but unscheduled absences from Azeroth. I finish gearing up, get bored, find another game to play, then come back after the next expansion...

So what im really saying here, is that I dunno what the hell im doing in arena. As a general rule. Sometimes.

For example when it's mage shaman vs priest priest. How am I even supposed to attempt to kill one of these pillar humping priests? I spend half my time defending myself, half my time attempting to counterspell, spellsteal and polymorph something useful, and the other half of my time cracking off the odd fireblast and trying to spam some frostbolts or whatever.

Clearly I don't have time to do all that. I'm over here in a dress, basically holding a sign that says over here, melt my face, I dare ya! Lookout or I'll sheep ya! and again! and now ill counter spell ya! and then what? buggered if I know... Do a little twirl?

Some improvement required. So I should practice right?

Last night I spent who knows how long doing 2v2 skirmish. Damn that is fun! Matches take approximately 7 seconds to pop, sometimes you get the same partner, sometimes you get to fight your previous partner, every matchup is different, so I keep getting killed in new an interesting ways...

It really gave me a lot of exposure to different tactics being used both for and against me, and I think I started to get better as the night went on.

There were times when things worked properly, and my initial MI / IV / We / frostbolt + freeze + deepfreeze + frostbolt + icelance + icelance combo** landed just as a warrior teamate did something nasty involving several large axes and some poor guy on the other side got assploded in the space of... (let me count) about 4 global cooldowns, so 6 seconds, but it seems like less because during the first GCD im casting, so from the time when he gets hit by the first frostbolt to the time when he becomes pink mist is more like 4.5 seconds.

That's a quick kill in anyone's book, and a good way to start an arena match on the right foot.

Of course I'm sure it's going to get harder when (if) I start playing rated matches, but you need a team for that.

Experienced people want to play with experienced people. Noobs also want to play with experienced people.

Unfortunately noobs are going to end up playing with other noobs more often than not, so the future here looks a bit bleak. Unless I find some random team that wants to give me a run... and then I turn around and don't suck, I am not really sure how best to get into an arena team.

Oh wells. I guess I'll just keep gearing up and practicing skirmishes for a while. And watching arena videos at work.

<3 youtube at work. ... and arenajunkies live steam is pretty awesome too when it works, but not enough mages stream. HOOK IT UP PEOPLE! Enough with the pally PoV - I wanna see how the pro mages do it. Anyhoo... in other news... it's still good to be a mage again. I can finally do respectable DPS and would back myself to take on almost any encounter in the game as it stands, with the exception of some of the hard modes that simply require the uber DPS that a set of mostly ilvl 200 gear can't deliver.

I also want to get into a gold pug, as they are starting on my server. Ideally I want to get into two. One where I tank it and don't bid on any items, and then another on my mage where I spend the cash I earn't on something useful, like a trinket or summat. HMMMM but raiding is like meh. small raids like OS and VOA are fun, but ulduar? what a snoozefest. Like the extreme opposite of 2v2 skirmish. You throw a few fire standing peanuts into the mix with a sprinkling of fail tank, and suddenly there are a million things I would rather be doing.

I did have a good voa 25 last night however, The RL checks me out before we start and says "if you dps is too low im going to kick you ok" and I'm like yeah OK, I will pull at least 4k, and he goes I hope so ur gear is pretty low... and I'm like Cheeeeel Winstun... Iz ok. Just see what happens. Well, what happened is I burnt mana like it was going out of style and was pulled some good numbers on trash, and then finished about 4th or 5th on dmg on Koravon.

Totally didn't get kicked.

It's good to be able to finally not feel weak in a 25 man raid. Of course, if I had better gear, I think I could really do something nuts in a raid like that... Especially if I hang in there until I get a few more triumph badges, get that +hit trinket, and go fire spec.

Hmm what else. I was too busy skirmishing and I missed my stoopid wintergrasps, and I bought the furious cloak instead of replacing my level 70 pvp neck!

It turns out clever doesn't happen at 3am... "Oh look a shiny!" *click* *buy* is far more like it. I didn't even realise my mistake until I started writing this post!

Lastly, my interface needs a rebuild. Spartan UI is out, minimalist functionality is in, and keybinds are due for a major rethink, as having to press 8 for my iceblock and F1 for my arcane power + icy veins doesn't really make sense. Stuff is all over the shop. One extra second finding the right key is one global cooldown wasted. (This post will be updated with a screen shot of my current UI in about 2 or 3 hours, depending on how early I can sneak away from the office)

** Am I doing this right by the way? (translation = cast mirror image, icy veins, water elemental, frostbolt, freeze, deep freeze, frostbolt, icelance, icelance) I am so used to doing shatter combos with the standard frostbolt + freeze + ice lance that I have to force myself to mix in the deep freeze.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Zupa still doesn't quest...

It's been a long time since I played my mage with any kind of conviction. However, in the past week or so that has changed, and I am definitely back in mage town!

It had been a while, it's true.... and there was some housekeeping to do. So I dusted off my gear, fixed my specs, and got stuck into some serious battle ground farming. After all, since 3.2 had saved me from the quest monster, I was free to PvP my way through those last 8 levels to 80... right? After all I still can't bring myself to quest.

At first it was a little bit annoying, seeing my frostbolts sail past my target, heading over yonder, where perhaps they go to to the great big frostbolt place in the sky, I dunno, but one way or another don't do as they're told...

A little frustrating, to begin with, helplessly watching the seething masses of confusion that your average BG turns into after a few minutes...

At times infuriating, steam rolling an entire AV only to find that we can't actually kill the boss... (What the hell is going on there by the way? A PvE boss ruining a PvP battleground by being too tank, making it so the only way to win is by way of a drawn out and boring war of attrition... )


But despite all this, it has been awesome, and it just keeps getting better as I level!

I hit level 79 just now, and there's no more spells missing all the time... none of this not being able to do anything useful... In fact, this frost mage in PvP business is different to how I remember.

Back in the day I was always able to stay up under fire for a little while in the right conditions, but now I just seem to live forever. I'm never short of a shield or a snare or a nuke or a poly, not to mention the pet and the double iceblock (lol) if things turn sketchy... and did I mention I love brain freeze?

So, I've started to notice something about living forever in a battleground.... You get heals!

Big fat juicy heals. Life saving heals.

It's nuts! It's like the healers actually have the time to see my frozen bony ass running into the alliance, causing some good natured havoc of the mage variety, typically getting in too deep and having to high tail it outta there, frost novas and ice barriers akimbo... and this invokes some sense of, I dunno, healeriness? that then causes them to... heal me!?!

Even though as a mage I occupy a space on the healing table somewhere below anyone -not- wearing a dress, but (hopefully) above a hunter's pet, they heal me.

Astonishing. I know.

Heals in battlegrounds. Lots of them. On my mage. I swear to you this has been happening, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Anyway I guess the moral of the story is... errrm... perhaps there isn't one, but I'm level 79, I'm frost and... Oh yeah. The moral of the story is that frost PvP is awesome, the survivability makes it super fun, being able to dominate everybody (cept druids of course) is wicked and I honestly have no idea what the hell all these arcane mages running around think they're doing. I mean really.

They see me rollin' They know I'm frost, I have a great big ice barrier happening over here. They see me stayin' alive don't they? What the hell are you lot doing with your arcane missles and such malarky in PvP? It's crazy! I know, because I got stuck in my arcane spec for one BG tonight and it was gruesome. Really nasty stuff. You need ice barrier kidlets!

So I guess one thing I do know, is that the arcane mages are dying a lot out there, because by the time a healer notices that they exist, a hunter's pet is eating their face while a rogue stunlocks them into submission, only to have a keyboard turning death knight clicker lolgrip them for the kill steal, typically a swift process from start to finish.

Oh and another thing, this idea Blizzard have finally got around to stealing from Warhammer? The bit where you get XP for PvP?

I like it!

From Blue to Bad to Red...

This is a mage blog, with a side of DK to be sure, but that was just a passing fad, and so I never blogged that much about it.

In fact, playing the DK is one of the major reasons this blog has been so... stagnant lately. It's a mage blog and if I'm not playing a mage, I don't have a hell of a lot of mage stuff to blog about!

However, some interesting shit has gone down recently, and I guess there's a story in it so here it comes.

So I had a mini-holiday over the weekend, actually spent the time on a boat

...which was awesome and a first time for me. Came home and decided to get my nerd on for a bit, and logged in to my banker. Business was ok, but lots and lots of unsold gems. I bought a bunch of uncuts and sent them over to my DK for processing, as I tend to do. It's my no-brainer money maker, which is about all I can be bothered with these days, and which is also beside the point.

I then logged onto Nikitar, and noticed I was no longer guilded.

edit: My old guild was called Blue Spark. This is relevant!

What the hell! As chance would have it the old guild leader, Anaujiram (yes i'm naming and shaming you bastard) chose that moment to log in. I sent him a tell saying "what the hell happened?" and I get back "ROFLMAO I AM SO DRUNK RIGHT NOW!!!! LOL" (I am making his speech pink for a reason here)

I see. So perhaps now isn't the greatest time to ask for an explanation, but I would kinda like to know. I was an officer and stuff. We had a guild bank full of lootz, a guild full of hard-mode-capable raiders (well this isn't entirely accurate but we did ok) and a well respected name and rank on the server in terms of progression. We were on the map. We had finally got there. We were wiping on 25 man heroic TOTC with the big boys. Now, suddenly, out of nowhere, we were nothing.

Next thing I get the following:
"Anaujiram has invited you to join the guild "faeries" "

What. The. Fuck. ? How about no?

How about I had enough trouble dealing with the fact that the old guild tabard was a poofy blue colour with a heart symbol, now you want me to run around with "faeries" over my head? Bite me you stupid bastard, and while ur at it what the fuck happened to the guild bank?

"oh it got pwned. I lost it when I gdisbanded and the GMs won't give it back"

"you fucken retard"

(I don't feel the need to ensure I don't offend my GL, after all I'm his main tank and longest serving officer. Someone has to be honest around here innit? Anyways...)

I wasn't especially impressed at this point. Now I have been getting towards the end of my tanking rope for some time already, and it looked to me like this was the end of the road. Yet somehow, against my better judgement, the GL convinced me to join his ill-conceived new guild and a-raiding we went.

What a circus! We went to ten man ulduar. There were about 4 of the orginal hard-mode players and 6 randoms. Aspiring raider randoms. Randoms who convinced the GL they had what it takes without having any experience having said 'it'. Randoms who don't use DBM. Randoms who stand in the fire. In short, randoms who are not ready for hard modes.

So after a handful of wipes on hardmode iron council, we go into the officer channel in vent to discuss the future, both of that night's raid and the guild as a whole. After coming to the consensus that we are both over it and would rather PvP than try to organise shit and educate nubs, we go back to tell the raid the bad news.

Somehow they convince us to give it another shot on normal mode. Someone speaks eloquently on the behalf of the randoms about how they aren't old school raiders like some of us and need a chance to learn fights etc. Ok fine. We zone back in and line up IC again, this time taking down steelbreaker first. Once again I'm not 100% sure what I'm meant to be tanking but it's not a huge problem as between me and the other tank we have it covered. Thing start off OK. Steelbreaker goes down and we still have an entire raid up.

Next thing I know, the little guy does his aoe thing and 3 people die. Right. Fine. See, this is why I don't want to do this anymore. I can play perfectly all night and still have nothing to show for it except a repair bill. As the wipe is in progress I notice someone hearthing down the back of the room... Hmm who could that be I wonder? And what could he possibly be doing?

"dont forget to clean out the gbank this time you noob"

"already doing it, relax"

I keep my mouth shut and watch the drama unfold. Vent erupts as people start clamoring for another chance, saying how it wasn't their fault, that someone dc, that someone else lagged, and someone else set their cat on fire. Meanwhile, silence from the guild leader, and silence from me. (I do an excellent impression of the strong and silent type in raids... )

More silence, panic starts happening. The randoms are sending me tells left and right wanting to know what's happening. Then this.

"Ok everyone, thanks for your time, all the best in the future"

"your guild has been disbanded"


I never should have accepted an invite to a guild called "faeries" in the first place. Don't get me wrong, I have no issues with rampant homosexuality, but I don't want to be directly involved. Call me old fashioned if you want.

Finally. It's over and I can PvP on my mage in peace. So I hop on my mage and I'm wandering around orgrimmar waiting for either AV or an instance group to pop. Disenchanting some random greens and generally minding my own business, when a guild charter pops up. Sure enough our illustrious leader managed to last all of 20 minutes before deciding that he wants to be an illustrious leader once again. At least this time he listened to me when it came to the guild name.

Now we are called "Red Spark"

But I only joined on my mage... ;)

Look out DPS meters, coz Zupa's back baby, Zupa's back!